Skip to main content

Full text of "The Gay Genius"

See other formats

EMPRESS'S FAVOURITE                        231

go and weep on the same day ? The company went along and came to

Sie entrance. The little Cheng Yi still tried to stop them. There was a

^ot argument.

i  "Don't you read the Analects?" said-Cheng Yi. "On the day that he

|had wept, Confucius did not sing."

\ To this Su Tungpo replied: "The Analects does not say that on the

cfay that he had sung, Confucius did not weep."

He was milch annoyed, and he led the company indoors, over Cheng
Yi's protests. Each one by turn stood before the coffin and made his
bows, and in a seemly and correct way wiped his eyes with his sleeves
before he turned away. Su Tungpo noticed that the son of Szema
Kuang was not present to receive tie guests, and upon inquiry was told
jiiat Cheng Yi had forbidden it as a custom unsupported by the ancient
rclassics. In the presence of the entire court Su Tungpo remarked upon
* this aloud, using a classical phrase of cultured abuse, which in simple
English means: "That is the ceremony of a dumpy, dowdy school-
master." Everybody roared with laughter and Cheng flushed all over.
The taunt stuck, for it fitted. It was a phrase that neither Cheng Yi
nor his deriders were likely to forget. Nobody liked to carry such a
label all his life. The, seed of hatred between Su Tungpo and the
Honan party, of which Cheng Yi was the leader, was planted.

Very soon they saw the carriages of the Emperor and the Empress
iSowager coming, the former with carved dragons and the latter with
f phoenixes, supported on crimson wheels. They came to pay their
^personal respects to the dead, and also wept before the coffin in the
ctfthodox approved manner. Szema Kuang was buried with the highest
honours. His body in the coffin was covered with quicksilver and
^dragon's brains" (Borneo camphor), gifts of the imperial house. The
family was given three thousand taels of silver and four thousand pieces
of silk, and two palace officials were appointed to escort the coffin to its
burial-place in the native district of Szema Kuang. Ten of his relatives
were also given official jobs.

Besides his duties as imperial secretary, Su Tungpo was given also, by
an appointment in July of the next year, those of an imperial lecturer.
The Emperor was but a child, but even with middle-aged emperors'
there was a regular series of lectures given on odd days of the month
"for the emperor's special benefit. It consisted of two semesters, the
spring semester running from February to the dragon boat festival on
the fifth day of the«fifth moon, and the winter semester from the mid-
'autumn festival to winter solstice. Officials well known for their learn-
ing were selected to take turns giving discourses on the classics and the
art of government as exemplified by instances in history. After the early
morning audience, the selected officials went over from Wenteh Hall
and followed the western covered corridor to Erhying Hail. In Su